The practice of yoga should be understood as a path towards human evolution. With this premise, we must always be in continuous reflection to know if our work brings us closer or away from that affirmation.
Some yoga disciplines work deeply with the body, the technical adjustments of the postures, a scientific precision that has its risks. This is the case of Iyengar Yoga. Just as some scientists run the risk of falling into the pride of their knowledge, in the arrogance of their “truths” and become intransigent and intolerant, there is also this risk within more “physical” practitioners.
A sincere practitioner should question their behavior outside the slip, how are their social relationships, what is their attitude to their environment and other practitioners. The practice that we are doing may be correct but is our attitude correct when it comes to addressing it? In other words, the fact is important, but the attitude we put into it is even more important.
When we work intensely on the body we can exhaust it. I have lived like this for years, tiredness makes us rigid, distant from the world and apathetic. When this situation is installed for a long time it is very difficult for us to face our mistake and we have the affirmation: “What I practice is correct, I follow the technique literally”. That is where we must introduce the second question: Is my attitude the correct one? If the effort is put in achieving the perfect posture, frustration is generated; If we achieve a change of position and practice with an attitude of “surrender”, humility, acceptance of our own limitations and tolerance and respect are raised not only to ourselves but also to the world around us.
To work this change of perspective, the yoga practitioner should not despise the technique learned but understand it as a tool at his service and know that he has one more instrument: breathing. In many cases technical learning requires so much attention and effort that we leave aside a fundamental element in yoga, breathing. This should not only be used in pranayama as it is commonly practiced; if we incorporate it in the work of the postures our bodies open from within, we mold ourselves with another perspective, it is no longer an external traction that pulls us but an internal force without conditioning, without rigidity.
Humility and contentment
I have had the great fortune of practicing for years with Prashant Iyengar son of the master BKS Iyenga. His teachings are revolutionary even within the Iyengar Yoga. It constantly confronts you with your fears, with your physical and mental limitations. On occasion, we have asked him to come to Spain to provide that light, but his refusal is constant, he knows that with his critical spirit he would be rejected by the majority. Some of his most potent affirmations are: “Iyengar Yoga practitioners are like fish in search of new technical points,” or “Over time practitioners become frustrated people.
Critically criticizes yoga teachers in their relationship to orders, and dogmatism. He makes a harsh criticism of our way of practicing, but it is precisely there that he helps us with the breathing techniques and with the mental attitude, cultivating a yoga mind with “purity, virginity, nobility, neutrality”, as points to work while we execute asanas.
If we want to understand how a person is transformed by yoga, we should study the great yogis, their actions, their behavior, their attitude. We will discover in all of them the common features of an evolved being. Humility, naturalness, nobility, exigency with themselves and tolerance with others, capacity for effort together with immense joy.
This last point is also one of the great forgotten in yoga, it is one of the Niyamas, Santosa, contentment, that the practitioner must cultivate in all aspects of his life, not understood as something superficial but as a feeling of joy deep that is emerging as we get closer to our interior, as we remove the layers that separate us from that light that we all carry inside and that is what moves us to continue on the path of yoga
“May Yoga be the food of the Spirit and may the Spirit finally unite with its Creator.”